Dissociative Disorders and Addiction

Dissociative Disorders and AddictionDissociative identity disorder is one of the least-understood mental health conditions in existence. Many people are confused by this disorder, formerly known as “Multiple Personality Disorder,” and myths abound around how and why this disorder impacts some people. When a person with a dissociative disorder begins to use drugs or alcohol, the problem can become much more serious and even life-threatening.

The Causes of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Dissociative identity disorder is still largely debated in the mental health community. However, most psychologists agree that DID begins when a person experiences severe traumas, especially early in life. When these traumas, such as abuse, molestation, war experiences, or violence are severe and repeated, the young person may begin to cope by dissociating from reality. Over time, the brain itself begins to change, and this person may begin to form what appears to be a different personality, which may act and behave in very different ways from the person’s real identity.

Different Types of Dissociation

Dissociative Disorders are often misdiagnosed. They may be misdiagnosed as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), mania, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, to name a few. Further complicating diagnosis, there are a few other dissociative disorders that may occur at the same time or separately from dissociative identity disorder, including:

  • Dissociative Fugue: This occurs when a person unexpectedly and without plans or warning leaves his home or surroundings and disappears for an extended period of time. During this time, the person is unaware of his location, identity, or why the travel is occurring.
  • Dissociative Amnesia: This occurs when a patient blocks out important life experiences, information, traumatic experiences, or extreme stress. This is not a result of physical injury and may only create amnesia around a particular event, or it may allow the person to recall small portions of events, or nothing at all.
  • Depersonalization and Desensitization: This occurs when a person feels detached from his experience in life, his body or reality. This feeling may be similar to a drug-induced feeling of non-reality, loss of control, or feeling like part of a dream-like state.

Dissociative Disorders and Addiction Help

It isn’t hard to see how a dissociative disorder might lead to substance abuse. When a loved one is experiencing such an incredible amount of personality change, life change, and stress, it can be difficult to watch as that loved one also seems to engage in substance abuse that often leads to even more serious and traumatic experiences.

Integrated rehab treatment can help. Integrated treatment combines mental health treatment along with substance abuse treatment to form a comprehensive, clinically-tested method of treating both addiction and the causes behind addiction. To learn more about how you can help yourself or a loved one with these issues, please call our toll-free helpline.